Less is More: The Benefits of Traveling with Hand Luggage Only in Italy
Updated: Apr 9
While packing all your favorite outfits may seem tempting on your vacation, only packing carry-on luggage, especially for your Italian vacation, has many practical and cost-saving benefits. In this article, I will talk about my personal experiences with checking luggage during my most recent trip to Italy (spoiler: it resulted in lost luggage and a lot of stress) and, in turn, the benefits of only packing hand luggage.
1. Lost luggage
One of the biggest benefits of only packing a carry-on is to mitigate the risk of lost luggage. We booked an American Airlines flight set to depart from Miami, and land in Rome, with one layover in Philadelphia.
On the day of our flight, we arrived at the Miami airport and immediately began the airport routine: 1. Check in our luggage 2. Pass through the security.
It was a busy day at the airport, and once we finally got through security, we headed to Starbucks for a quick coffee pit stop on our way to our gate.
While waiting in line at Starbucks, I got the alert no traveler ever wants to receive:
‘Your flight has been canceled'.
As soon as that alert popped up on my phone, we bolted to the rebooking desk to find another flight. Luckily, we were booked on a direct flight leaving in a few hours (SCORE!). But, this flight was on a different airline, so our checked luggage had to be transferred to a different terminal and airline.
While I didn’t think that would be a problem at that moment, I was quickly proven wrong when our luggage never arrived on the luggage carousel when we arrived at the Rome airport.
To keep this long, stressful story short, we did not get our bags back until about ten days later. We, fortunately, packed a change of clothes and essentials like medication in our carry-on and were able to do some shopping upon our arrival, but not having my comfortable walking shoes, undergarments, or swimsuits put a little damper on our week of fun planned in Cinque Terre.
2. Save Time, Effort, and Money
Another reason to only travel to Europe with hand luggage is the perk of saving time and money. Many airlines, especially the smaller regional airlines that fly between European cities, will charge high fees if traveling with checked bags.
While flights within Europe may seem inexpensive at face value, the additional baggage fees can quickly add up to more than the cost of the airline ticket itself. Also, in my experience, smaller airlines, like EasyJet, Eurowings, and RyanAir, have fewer workers and luggage desks open than larger airlines like American Airlines or Delta.
As a result, you may find yourself waiting a couple of hours in a line to check your bags before your flight and at the luggage carousel upon arrival at your destination.
This exact scenario happened to me when flying from Berlin to Pisa on a Ryanair flight, and it took me an hour and a half to get through the checked baggage line, which made me just 15 minutes shy of missing my flight!
3. Freedom and Flexibility
And last but not least, Italy (and Europe more generally) has many great public transportation options like high-speed trains that can transport you from Milan to Naples in a very reasonable amount of time.
These trains are great and what I mainly use to get around the country. However, traveling through busy train stations and on and off trains with large, or several bags is impractical. (Believe me, Brooks, my boyfriend, knows from experience).
Once you’re on the train, the only space near your seat to store luggage will typically be in a small overhead compartment. If you have a larger suitcase, you will have to store it in a luggage storage spot on the train, which is often already full if you are traveling during the high season like summer, and this designated area is typically out of sight from the passenger seats.
For obvious reasons, it is always good to be able to keep an eye on your personal belongings while traveling, and only having hand luggage will allow you to keep your luggage stowed in the overhead bin or under your seat. Plus, if the luggage store is full, you’ll have the spend multiple hours on the train, cammed, with a large/multiple suitcases between your legs.